Surviving winter on a narrowboat

The last winter I spent on a narrowboat, four years ago, was mild compared to this one. This time the canal has frozen over, and has been frozen for a week and a half, and it could take a while before the ice thaws.

Narrowboat in the frozen canal

Water is becoming a problem. We’ve got an almost empty tank, we’re not within reach of a tap and can’t drive to one. The local pub in Rodley has filled up a few water containers for me, and a local resident helped out with a couple of refills – I’m thankful for their assistance but that’s barely enough for a shower each day and some washing up. It’s not enough to run the washing machine so a trip to the launderette is overdue.

We filled up with diesel a week and a half ago but we’re down to one fifth of the tank. We have a diesel heater and have had to have it on constantly day and night to prevent frost damage to the water pipes, water pump, and shower, and to stay warm. Fortunately there’s a boatyard nearby so we can bring 20 litre containers of diesel to the boat by wheelbarrow, but it’s proving to be expensive. I’ve never used so much diesel in so short a time, usually a full tank lasts for several months. Before next winter we need to get a wood burning stove installed, to give us another way to heat the boat.

I’ve topped up the engine’s header tank with water and anti-freeze, made sure the greaser’s twisted daily, wiped the windows of condensation, and wished every day that we’d made it to our winter mooring before the freeze. Oh well, the snowy landscape’s been beautiful!

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3 Responses to Surviving winter on a narrowboat

  1. Del says:

    The big thaw starts today, but more of the cold stuff next week.

    I must buy myself a wheel barrow. Last week I had to carry two x 23 litre containers of diesel up the tow path, luckily I was built big and strong.


    Big Del Keay


  2. Pete Earley says:

    Like you we have a winter mooring booked at Clarence Dock but are stuck by ice at Lemonroyd. However, we have water and elsan and BWML have allowed us to plug into a spare electricity socket so we are in no worse a state than if we got to Leeds. The downside is the mile walk to the nearest shop, pub or bus stop.

    We went to Leeds yesterday by bus. Very galling to see rthe half empty dock knowing you’ve paid to be there. It was ice free and the floodgates were open. It was raining this morning and is now drizzling so maybe the ice will melt though it wiull take quite a bit to melt an inch or more of ice.

    I imagine another problem you will have to face is the need to give BW 72 hours notice when it does thaw to come back down the locks and hope it doesn’t refreeze it between times.

    If you want a hand coming back down the let me know, assuming we’ve got to Leeds.

    ‘Joanie M’

  3. jareG says:

    I hope you are OK. The real winter just started.
    Anyway I really like your blog – great journey from London to Leeds. I hope to do the same next year.


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